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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, November 2, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. - Charles Dickens

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2021 Tour de France route presented

Here's the Tour organizer's update:

The route of the 2021 Tour de France, which is due to run from 26 June to 18 July, was presented on the set of France Télévisions' Stade 2 weekly programme today. After the Grand Départ in Copenhagen and Denmark had to be postponed to the following edition, this time the show will get on the road in Brittany with four stages tailored to punchers and sprinters.

2021 Tour de France map

2021 Tour de France map

The 2021 route has been fine-tuned to keep the suspense going until the end. Climbers will get three opportunities to gain time on summit finishes (Tignes, Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet and Luz Ardiden), but riders will also have to make use of their descending skills to win in Le Grand Bornand, at the foot of a "revamped" Ventoux and in Andorra. The addition of two individual time trials with a combined length of 58 kilometres will also be a decisive factor in the strategies of the riders. 

The 108th Tour de France will feature a groundbreaking route with a double serving of double trouble. Contenders for the overall victory will have to be on high alert from the get-go, lest they choke on the two climbs up the Mûr-de-Bretagne, which will be tackled from a different side in the stage 2 finale. Ten days later, they will have to make another show of strength on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux. The Giant of Provence, which is making its first double appearance in a stage, will be tackled from two different sides before plunging down to Malaucène. In between these two key dates, the riders will have already faced new challenges, including four stages in the four departments that make up Brittany —from Brest to Fougères— riddled with hazards such as coastal winds and the hills of the Armorican Massif. The Signal d'Uchon, a recently discovered climb in the Morvan, will decide the stage to Le Creusot in its first appearance in the race. 

The return of the first-week individual time trial will provide an early indication of the pecking order, which the climbers will do their best to shake up in the two gruelling Alpine stages finishing in Le Grand Bornand and on the heights of Tignes, just before the first rest day. 

After that, the Pyrenees will dispel any remaining doubts in five action-packed duels in the high mountains, combining the brand-new, spectacular Col de Saint-Louis on the road to Quillan with absolute classics like the Peyresourde – Val Louron-Azet – Col du Portet and Tourmalet – Luz Ardiden sequences. It will be do or die for the kings of the mountains, who will have to grab every second they can if they are to fend off the toughest power riders in the 31 km romp through the vineyards of Saint-Émilion on the eve of the finish on the Champs-Élysées. 

While the destiny of the yellow jersey will probably be decided in south-western France, the fight for the green jersey will take place all over the country, with no fewer than seven stages likely to fall to the sprinters as long as their teammates can keep any breakaways on a tight leash. Stage hunters will also get numerous opportunities to thwart the peloton.

Time to follow Alaphilippe's wheel! Following the cancellation of the 2020 edition, the cyclosportive riders of the Étape du Tour de France will get back to business on the course of stage 2 of the last Tour de France, an 186 km trek featuring the Col de la Colmiane, Col de Turini and Col d'Èze as its highlights. The decision to keep the original course of the 30th edition stems from a common aspiration with the city of Nice to support the villages in the Vésubie Valley, which were devastated and left with damaged roads by Storm Alex a few weeks ago. Note that riders who signed up for the 2020 edition will have priority for 2021, but they may ask for a refund if they no longer wish to take part in the event. The official registration window will open at the beginning of the year. 

Since 2014, the women's peloton has raced on the Champs-Élysées, tamed the Col d'Izoard and gone head to head in a circuit race at the foot of the Pyrenees. The eighth edition of the race will take the riders to Mûr-de-Bretagne, a hallowed site of cycling that has come to be known as "the Breton Alpe d'Huez". While the men will face a double serving of the climb in the finale of stage 2, the ladies will tackle it no fewer than six times on 27 June 2021. The course is about 130 km long and consists of five laps of a circuit to be completed before the finish. Each lap will be another turn of the screw!

Vuelta a España stage 12 reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Hugh Carthy's EF Pro Cycling team:

Hugh Carthy took his first Grand Tour victory atop the mythical Alto de l’Angliru on stage 12 of the Vuelta a España. Our Prestonian also moved up into third overall ahead of the second and last rest day of the race.

Hugh CArthy

Hugh Carthy wins a big one. Photo: Gomez Sport

With the shadow of the mighty Angliru cast over the race for the past week, all eyes were on stage 12 of the 2020 Vuelta. A climb seldom used throughout the history of the race because of the punishing gradients that would often lead to riders protesting the race organizers’ decision to use it, the Angliru has cemented itself in Vuelta lore.

The day started, like most days at this year’s race, with a fast and furious pace being set by riders trying to get into the breakaway. Our Dutch rider, Julius van den Berg, was the first rider to gain a gap on the peloton and he would quickly be joined by twenty other riders. The large break had plenty of firepower in it, but they never got much of a lead over the peloton that was being patrolled by Jumbo-Visma and Team Movistar.

The break would ride together over the first three categorized climbs of the day, never extending their gap to more than two and a half minutes. It was on the penultimate climb of the day, the category one Alto del Cordal, that the break got swallowed up by the peloton again.

The run-in to the Alto de l’Angliru was a fast one, with Jumbo-Visma riding hard on the front and whittling down the bunch on the steeps. Carthy and Mike Woods were the two riders left for EF Pro Cycling along with all the main contenders of the race.

It was with three and a half kilometers to go that attacks started to come out of the group of favorites. The first blow was given by Enric Mas (MOV), who was matched by Carthy and Richard Carapaz (INS). As the group came back together on the steepest gradients of the climb, which pitch up to leg numbing 24 percent, the red jersey started to fall off the back with around one and a half kilometers to go. It was then that Carthy launched his decisive attack.

Hugh powered across the line having opened up a gap on the riders behind. His gap of 6 seconds was enough to leapfrog over his closest opponent – Dan Martin (ISN) – to move into third overall in the general classification.

A year and four months after his incredible solo victory at the Tour de Suisse, Carthy is back on top of the podium. What a day to have a great day. There’s one week left in this Vuelta — and what a Vuelta it has been already.

Hugh Carthy, Rider:
It’s a dream come true to win. In any professional race it’s a dream come true. But to win in a Grand Tour, in a mythical climb, it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s hard to put into words.

Next week is going to be exciting. Especially for the public it’s everything they want. A close race, going into the time trial. Everything is to play for.

Jonathan Vaughters, EF Pro Cycling Team CEO:
If I had one word for Hugh’s victory today it would be ‘grit.’ You could see he was in real physical difficulty on the crazy steep sections, but he just dig in and fought to stay at the front. And I’m sure he was in all kinds of hurt when he attacked, but he timed it beautifully and had the grit to seal the deal. Now he’s back on the podium and we’ve got everything to ride for. I’m excited for this final week to say the least.

Juanma Garate, Sport Director:
Angliru is mythical in cycling history. If you win on top of that climb, your name will be in the history books forever. It’s something that not many people can do. It’s such a hard climb and all the winners there are part of the cycling greats. Unless you’re winning it from the breakaway, you have to be a big big name to win here and I think today Hugh entered his name in the book of cycling greats. It’s something really special and something that he will have with him for the rest of his life.

Teamwork today was very important. Our goal was to send Julius in the early break to go over the first three climbs in front in case we needed him in the valleys and he did a perfect job. Really incredible job. It was not easy, and in the end he was the one that created the day’s breakaway. He was really strong in the first 25 kilometers, so it was important to have him in the front, even if we didn’t end up needing him, it was important tactically.

The job Mike did on the last climb was super important in terms of giving Hugh confidence and letting Hugh know that he has the support and is never isolated. That’s super important. Hugh then was able to ride the last climb in a really mature way, waiting for his opportunities and waiting for his rivals to make the moves. You need to ride these climbs at your own tempo, wait until the last minutes to attack and that’s exactly what he did. Everyone rode perfectly today.

New race leader Richard Carapaz's INEOS Grenadiers team posted this report:

Richard Carapaz put in a strong and spirited performance to regain the red leader’s jersey as the contenders battled it out on the Alto de l’Angliru.

The Ecuadorian crossed the line fourth on the infamous climb, edging out 10 key seconds on chief rival Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) on the steep gradients.

That elevated Carapaz back into red, taking a 10-second advantage into the second rest day in Spain.

Richard Caapaz

Richard Carapaz leads an elite group up the steep mountain. INEOS photo

Chris Froome was the final rider in support of his teammate, helping to raise the pace on the penultimate climb of the Alto del Cordal.

With 2km to go on the Angliru, Carapaz put in an acceleration but was unable to put significant time into Roglic, who held firm. Brit Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) was able to push clear ahead of the final kilometre to take an impressive solo victory.

Earlier, after a fast start to the day, Cameron Wurf was able to help the team by placing himself in a large breakaway group. Andrey Amador had less luck on Sunday, crashing on a slippy corner on the descent off the over Alto de la Mozqueta.

Richard Carapaz:
"This climb made a natural selection. We already spent a lot of energy yesterday and it was a very hard stage today. I remembered it from 2017 but it’s been incredible. I tried in the end, Mas and Carthy also went for it and I continued with my pace and that gave me a 10-second advantage. That’s great for us, we’re going towards the time trial with the idea to give our best and defend the leadership.

"Im very happy to wear [La Roja] again. It’s a good thing for me, for the team, and for everything we’ve been doing."

Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team posted this:

Primoz Roglic has had to pass on the red leader’s jersey in the twelfth stage of the Vuelta a España. The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma was having a hard time on the steep slopes of the Angliru, but he is still in GC contention. The Slovenian eventually finished in fifth place, 26 seconds behind stage winner Hugh Carthy. He also conceded ten seconds to Richard Carapaz, who took over the overall lead again.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic (shown at the end of stage eight) will start stage thirteen in green. Gomez Sport photo

In the short stage with five climbs, just like yesterday, the pace was high from the start. An early breakaway was caught before the foot of the Angliru, after which Team Jumbo-Visma increased the pace with first Robert Gesink and then Jonas Vingegaard. In the last three kilometres, with percentage increases above twenty, Roglic was suffering, but limited his time loss partly due to an outstanding Sepp Kuss.

“It was too hard a climb for a sprinter”, Roglic joked. “I didn’t have my best day, but in the end I can’t be dissatisfied with the result. I am still in a good position overall and I am very happy with that. Of course I would have liked to gain time rather than losing it, but it is what it is. The team was again very strong and very impressive. They are all riding at a very high level. I feel sorry for Sepp, because he certainly could have won the stage. But I also want to thank him for the support in the last kilometres. Without him I would have lost more time. Now we will first enjoy the rest day and then we will focus on the time trial. We will continue to give everything to win the Vuelta. Everything is still possible in the third week.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann concurred. “We have shown that we are the strongest team in the Vuelta. We may have lost the leader’s jersey, but definitely not the Vuelta. Despite Primoz’s bad day, I am happy with the result and the way we rode as a team. Everyone knows what their job is and everyone has done that very well. We are already looking forward to Tuesday’s time trial. It’s a quite long time trial and it’s straightforward with a steep one and a half kilometre climb at the end. It is a time trial that should suit Primoz, but we will make up the balance after the time trial.”

And Felix Grossschartner's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

Today's stage of only 109 km in length was a tough one, taking in two third category climbs, as well as two first category ascents, and last but not least the legendary Alto de l'Angliru to conclude the stage. The mythical mountain demanded everything from the riders and led to a change in the overall standings once again. In the first hour of racing that followed the start in La Pola Laviana, a group of 20 riders, including Andreas Schillinger, tried their luck in the breakaway. Their gap over the field stretched out to a maximum of a little over 2 minutes.

The increased speed that was meted out by Movistar on the first climbs caused several of the riders in the field to drop back. The leading group also split, with the German BORA- hansgrohe rider unable to keep up with the increased pace that was being set on the incline. On the climb to the Alto del Cordal, there were only 25 riders left in the field, who attempted to close the 25 second lead of the remaining escapees. On the slopes of the Angliru, Jumbo-Visma caught up with the leaders and the group of favourites remained together for the time being. On the steepest part of the ascent, Felix Großschartner tried to stay with the group, yet was forced to fall back, and a little later the group in front disintegrated.

2.5 km to the finish, a smaller group of favourites then proceeded to fight it out for the victory, and when Carthy attacked, nobody was able to follow and he took the day's victory. Felix crossed the finish line 2:15 minutes behind in tenth place, to take yet another strong top 10 on a tough Vuelta mountain stage.

"That was a real bike race today! But it was quite good for me. I had already figured out beforehand how I had to ride up the last climb. I lost some time over the final few kilometres, but overall, I'm very satisfied with how it went today. I finished tenth on the stage and am still in 7th position overall, which is a very good result. Now we'll see what will happen over the next few days.” - Felix Großschartner

"It was a super hard day today. The stage to Angliru is incredibly difficult and we wanted to be ready with Felix for what was going to be a tough race. We knew that if we could get onto the final climb with him right up there, then he'd be able to get up the ascent with a good rhythm and defend his overall position. That worked well, and he's still seventh overall, which we're very happy about." - Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

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